Music Review: Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel- Turncoats

Hi there!

What is it about the impending arrival of Spring that brings out great new albums? I know Spring is a few weeks away yet, but it seems that great albums are in bloom all over the place. Especially in the folk/rock arena, with artists such as Bobby Long, Lee MacDougall, and Wes Kirkpatrick all releasing albums in recent weeks.

Thankfully, the streak seems to be continuing with Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel and their release Turncoats that just came out this week. Evidently it wasn’t the easiest project to work on together and there was a bit of turnover in the band lineup while recording. “There was a lot of turmoil,” says Cory. “Artistically, it didn’t work out, but we’re still great friends with everyone.”

Like many bands I’ve reviewed of late, it’s tough to pin down just one style for Cory and the band. They bring aspects of folk and Americana traditions while bringing in bits of country and rock for good measure. And Cory’s voice is the constant across all of it, with a sound that reminded me quite a bit of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy‘s lead singer Scotty Morris. The songs on Turncoats run the gamut from the Western-sounding “3 Step” and the Doors-sounding “Gypsy” to the Bossanova beach party groove of “Dr. Pleasure M.D.” and ’70s-style guitar groove of “Venus.”

Honestly, “3 Step” would be right at home in the soundtrack for a modern Western. (I hear Quentin Tarantino may be working on one and he should definitely give it a listen!) The awesome bass line and sliding guitars give it some serious texture, while it seamlessly slides into a more polished sound with electric guitar solos in the background. All of this along with Cory’s voice telling a dark story about fears of turning into something worse… “Catch me clutching to my crime. / Swear I loathe your jealous type. / You crave possession, now I find my own way home, way home…”

Then we literally slide (via electric guitar) into “Fever” where Cory growls the lyrics about a guy trapped by the love (perhaps lust) of a woman… “Fever / You’re in trouble son / She’s your fever…” It’s his father asking him why in the heck he’s being led by the nose. His father’s been there too – “You won’t catch me trippin’ over wise man’s robes / but why did you go and let her in?” All the while, there’s this amazing bass line and haunting guitars walking the song along.

And then there’s “Gypsy,” which almost has a Doors-feel with a “People are Strange” similar bass line and mixing up the beats and song styles measure to measure. This one is more upbeat than the first two tracks. It seems as though the person singing was looking for advice and may have been confused by the Gypsy offering hers. As he tries to figure it out, he’s playing with ideas… “I think I’ll move to Arizona, where it’s said the souls are warmer / Tired of all these strangers think they read my mind / Turn around they watch you fall, they watch you fall, they watch…”

The whole album mixes styles and rhythms with amazing ease. In “Dr. Pleasure M.D.” it has almost a bossanova groove that reminded me of a beach party, while “Venus” has a ’70’s style guitar that would be at home in many films of the era. It’s obvious that Cory and the entire band have a wide variety of influences, which they mix and match to meet the needs of a particular song.

Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel offer a unique blend of musical styles that makes Turncoats a great album. If you’re looking for a new Americana band to give a try, I’d encourage you to pick this one up. It’s definitely not your parents’ version of Americana! Be sure to check them out on Facebook and MySpace for news and tour information! It’s available for download on Amazon on MP3.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Music Review: Jer Coons – Speak

Hey there!

Jer Coons has not yet had much exposure on the national stage, but he’s about to get a lot more. Coons’ debut album Speak released on September 29, 2009. I suspect we’re going to be hearing a lot of this talented young man.

Jer Coons Speak CoverThere’s something about Coons’ lyrics and style that make me think in some ways of Jason Mraz, but he’s also got his own style there too. These songs come from his experiences – the highs and lows, the lessons learned, perceptions of a guy simply trying to find his way. As Jer says – “I’ve been waiting my whole life to make this album.” And it shows. These are personal songs that speak to listeners.

The combination of stories, harmonies, and a variety of musical stylings combines to provide a sound that pushes this album above the noise of most debut releases. Style-wise, the tracks are mostly pop-rock, with a bit of country thrown in for good measure.

Most tracks combine acoustic guitars, drums, and Jer’s vocals to good effect. Occasionally, as with “Ship Sank,” they mix it up a bit and add some really soulful grooves that I found difficult to stop from echoing in my brain, long after the song had stopped.

The title track, “Speak”, has a groovy guitar track that winds all the way through the story of a breakup. The guy in the song has an epiphany that “I’m gonna find a place that I belong to. / When I do I’ll find a face worth holding onto…” He’ll move on and hopefully gain a bit more independence from the experience.

The second track, “Legs” mixes in some of that Jason Mraz influence while talking about the aftermath of a failed relationship. Publicly, he wants her to be happy, but privately he hopes that she’ll think of him every time she goes to kiss the new guy.

Here’s a video, filmed entirely in Vermont locations, for the song “Legs”:

Jer Coons’ album Speak hit retailers on September 29, 2009, so be sure to check it out and ask for it on the radio. Let a bit of Coons’ Vermont groove into your life! Check out Coons’ website for details on his upcoming tour as well.

–Fitz

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